Pharmacist weighs in on baby cured of HIV3 min read

Sahitya Katikneni, Freelance Writer

The recent news of a baby being cured of HIV in Mississippi left the medical community divided, with some researchers excited and some casting doubts on the findings.

HIV is a sexually transmitted disease that causes progressive failure of the immune system leading to life-threatening conditions.

Instead of dying of HIV, the person eventually dies of the common cold, fever, or flu.

The infection is detected by a blood test, and once detected, it is treated with antiretrovirals.

In simple terminology, these medications act by preventing the virus from replicating further in the body and in the majority of cases the treatment lasts for a lifetime.

But it is not a cure.

Curing HIV will be a tremendous accomplishment for mankind, as doctors have been searching for a cure for decades.

There have been some advancements in the field, but a cure is still yet to be found.

As a pharmaceutical scientist, I was totally exuberant when I learned about this study.

But, we must proceed cautiously and try to understand the basis and roots of these findings and the implications for the common man.

According to reports from leading newspapers like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, this baby was subjected to an aggressive treatment regimen as opposed to the conventional schedule, normally followed when attending to infants with a risk of HIV.

The baby underwent antiretroviral treatments when it was only six months old.

Several rounds later, the baby’s blood tests showed no signs of the HIV infection.

The drugs used for treating HIV have been around for a while but what made this baby special?

Was it the treatment approach undertaken by the doctors,  the baby’s genetic construct, or other miscellaneous factors pertaining to a specific individual?

The answer to this question  only rests on future research and deeper investigation into this finding.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told the Wall Street Journal that these findings will have to be validated in another individual and should be replicated several times before science can reach any effective conclusion.

According to a United Nations estimate, there were 330,000 babies around the world newly infected with HIV in 2011.

HIV cases in teenagers are also important, as many are engaging in sexual activities without knowing safe sex practices which could end up in being infected.

If future research proves that this case is not one-of-a-kind and a potential cure for HIV could be on the way, that would give a lot of hope and relief to kids around the world

However, it cannot be definitely said if the same hope and optimism exists for adults.

If researchers can extrapolate the findings from this study to adults as well and probe further into this aspect, that would even give more hope.

As much as recen findings appears to be promising precautionary measures will still have to be followed.

Prevention is better than cure and in cases of HIV prevention, it is even more so.

The applicability of this finding to one and all is best answered by further investigation.

Hopefully, our quest to find a cure for HIV will end soon so that the millions affected by this horrible disease will have a chance to live without constantly taking antiretrovirals.

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